The Ultimate Easy Coconut Cake {VIEDO}

You’re going to love every sweet, fluffy bite of this Ultimate Coconut Cake! It starts with cake and pudding mix, ending in an extremely moist (thanks to coconut milk) sheet cake topped with a lightly sweetened coconut frosting. A completely irresistible dessert for Easter, spring, or summer! 

Spring and summer are upon us, which means it’s time to enjoy the simple pleasures of light desserts like coconut cake. If you love indulging in the tropical flavors of coconut, you really need to make a batch of Piña Colada Bars or a beautiful Piña Colada Cake!

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Slice of coconut sheet cake on a white plate

Why We Love Easy Coconut Cake

Whether you make this coconut cake for Easter Sunday or for a pool party in June, you’re going to love how sweet and simple it is! And don’t worry – it might be simple, but it’s still show-stoppingly delicious! This is one of those cake recipes that people always ask for after enjoying a slice. 

The texture of the cake is very moist and the coconut frosting is light and fluffy. Served cold it’s perfect to enjoy on a warm afternoon. As far as flavor goes, if you love coconut, you’re going to be SO pleased with the crazy amount of coconut flavor in this easy cake recipe! Coconut flakes, coconut extract, and coconut milk all come together to whisk you away to a coconut paradise!  It’s seriously one of my top all-time favorite cakes! 

coconut cake in pan with three pieces served on plates

Ingredients for Easy Coconut Cake

This coconut cake is super easy to make, but make sure you read my notes about the ingredients and my tips a little farther down.

For the cake batter, you’ll need:

  • white cake mix – Any brand of white cake mix should do the trick. 
  • coconut cream instant pudding mix – If you can’t find coconut pudding mix, vanilla works too. You may just want to adjust the coconut extract a little based on which pudding mix you use.
  • sour cream – This is what I call my secret ingredient – you can’t taste the sour cream, but it provides a creamy texture to the cake that’s amazing! Make sure it’s room temp, not cold.
  • canola oil
  • canned coconut milk – Canned coconut milk is a cooking ingredient, not a beverage, make sure you’re using unsweetened. Do not use refrigerated carton coconut milk or canned coconut cream. — Can’t find canned coconut milk? You can use buttermilk instead.
  • egg whites – Using only egg white instead of whole eggs will yield a lighter crumb. Egg whites also help keep a white cake white, whereas using the yolks will give you a yellow cake. In this case, the pudding mix will yellow the cake color some, but using whole eggs will give you a dense cake, where egg whites only will give it a lighter airy texture.
  • sweetened coconut flakes – Sweetened coconut is usually used in baking, it’s sweeter and moister than unsweetened coconut, which is a little drier and chewier and great for savory dishes. You can use either in this recipe. If you prefer, you can pulse the sweetened shredded coconut in a food processor to make the flakes a little smaller.
  • coconut extract – Add an extra teaspoon if you want the coconut to stand out even more, but be careful – a little extract goes a long way!
  • almond extract – Just one teaspoon adds a wonderful hint of almond that creates depth in this recipe. 

cake ingredients and kitchenaid mixer

The homemade frosting requires:

  • cream cheese – Make sure your cream cheese is completely softened, to get a nice smooth texture.
  • powdered sugar – This is the key to giving the Cool Whip stability and creates the delicate sweetness of the frosting.
  • coconut extract
  • Cool Whip – Be sure to thaw before making the frosting. Simply place the frozen container in the refrigerator for 4-5 hours (this is my preferred method). But, if you forgot to thaw the Cool Whip, you can thaw it in the microwave on defrost in 30-second increments for a total of 2-3 minutes, stopping to stir/fold gently.  
  • coconut flakes – Coconut flakes can be toasted or dyed to garnish the frosting.

coconut cake in white pan

How To Make The Easiest Coconut Cake

(full printable recipe at the end of this post)

How to bake the most perfect coconut cake:

Step One:  Start by preheating the oven to 350°F and grease and lightly flour a 9×13 pan.

Step Two: Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the sour cream, oil, and milk. Then, add the egg whites and both extracts. Beat until combined. With the mixer on low, add the cake mix and pudding mix. Beat for two minutes on low, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Fold in the coconut flakes. 

Step Three: Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake in the center of the oven for 33-38 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting!

a bite of cake on a fork next to a slice of cake

How to make Cream Cheese Cool Whip Frosting

While you might be a little surprised by the ingredients in this frosting, promise me you’ll try it!! Quite simply, it is absolutely delicious.

Wait to make the frosting until the cake is cooled and you are ready to frost the coconut cake.

Step One: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Then, add extract and powdered sugar and continue beating until well combined and smooth. 

Step Two: Fold in Cool Whip (be sure to fold, NOT stir). Fold in coconut flakes, or simply sprinkle on top after frosting the cake.

For best results, refrigerate the frosted cake for at least one hour or overnight before serving! This cake is meant to be served cold. It will also stay fresh in the fridge for up to 5 days!

cake with coconut frosting and a fork on a plate

Cream Cheese Cool Whip Frosting Notes and Tips:

  • Make sure your cream cheese is completely softened, to get a nice smooth texture. Blend the cream cheese first to get it nice and smooth, then add the extract and powdered sugar. Once combined and smooth FOLD in the thawed Cool Whip, do not stir!!
  • Coconut can be folded in with the Cool Whip or just sprinkled on top of the frosted cake.
  • This frosting should be made when you are ready to frost the cake, it sets up too much if made ahead of time.
  • Coconut can be toasted or tinted with food color for frosting.
  • Adding cream cheese and powdered sugar to Cool Whip makes it more stable than just Cool Whip alone and cuts down on the sweetness just a little
  • This frosting recipe makes a lot, yielding a thick layer of frosting on the cake. It can easily be cut in half if you would rather have a thinner layer of frosting on the cake
  • You could frost the cake with just Cool Whip or homemade whipped cream, just know it won’t be a very stable frosting.
  • This coconut cake would also be delicious with buttercream frosting: With an electric mixer cream together 4 ounces softened cream cheese and 1/4 cup softened butter. Add 1 teaspoon coconut extract, and 1 cup of powdered sugar and beat until frosting is smooth. Top with coconut after frosting the cake.

coconut cake with a gold fork poking into it

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Easy Coconut Cake Tips

Use room temperature ingredients. If there’s one rule of thumb you learn here, it should be that ingredients blend together better when everything is at room temperature, including the sour cream.

Avoid mixing too much. Don’t over mix the cake batter, and don’t mix at high speed. Once the dry ingredients are added, mix on low. Developing the flour’s gluten too much will cause the cake to sink when you pull it out of the oven making dense, moist, gluey streaks in the cake.

Whisk the canned coconut milk. When you open the can, it will have a VERY thick cream layer on top with a milky liquid underneath it. Use a whisk to blend it back together before measuring for this recipe.

Layer it! You can make this as a layer cake or cupcakes. For two layers, grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans and bake for 23-25 minutes. For three layers, baked in three 9-inch cake pans for 20-23 minutes. For cupcakes, bake for 20 minutes.

Don’t make the frosting too early. This frosting should be made when you are ready to frost the cake, it sets up too much if made ahead of time.

coconut cake on a plate with a gold fork

More Summer-Inspired Desserts To Make:

Lemon Sheet Cake – This no-fuss Lemon Sheet Cake is super moist and makes a wonderful spring or summer dessert that easily feeds a crowd. It may not be a fancy cake, but each slice is pure lemon bliss!

Blackberry Sour Cream Pie – Sweetened sour cream swirls around sweet blackberries in this delightful Blackberry Sour Cream Pie with a quick crumble topping. This pie is so good and easy to make.

Easy Fruit Trifle – This FRUIT TRIFLE is a super easy, no-bake dessert perfect for Memorial Day, Fourth of July, or any other festive gathering during the summer season. Layers of angel food cake, vanilla pudding, whipped topping, and pie filling form a beautiful make-ahead dessert that everyone loves! 

Like This Coconut Cake Recipe? Pin It!

pieces of cake on white plates

pinterest-image

In my opinion, it’s hard to beat a good coconut cake. Today’s recipe is beyond good…it’s downright delicious. And it’s easy to make, to boot! Thіѕ coconut sheet cake recipe is sure to become your go-to cake recipe for warm weather.

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coconut cake with a gold fork poking into it

Easy Coconut Cake

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

You’re going to love every sweet, fluffy bite of this ULTIMATE COCONUT CAKE! It starts with cake and pudding mix, ending in an extremely moist (thanks to coconut milk) sheet cake topped with a lightly sweetened coconut frosting. A completely irresistible dessert for Easter, spring, or summer! 

Ingredients

  • 1 Box White Cake Mix (I usually use Duncan Hines)
  • 1 (4-serving size) box coconut cream (or vanilla) Instant Pudding Mix
  • 3/4 cup sour cream, room temp
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup canned coconut milk (or buttermilk), room temp *SEE NOTES
  • 4 egg whites, room temp
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1-2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Cream Cheese Cool Whip Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, completely softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 16 ounces Cool Whip, thawed
  • coconut flakes to garnish

Instructions

For The Coconut Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F and grease and lightly flour a 9x13 pan.
  2. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment combine the sour cream, oil, and milk. Then add the egg whites and extracts. Beat until combined. With the mixer on low, add the cake mix and pudding mix. Beat for two minutes on low, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Fold in the coconut
  3. Pour batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake in the center of the oven for 33-38 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
  4. Make The Frosting: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add extract and powdered sugar and continue beating until well combined and smooth. Fold in Cool Whip (be sure to fold, NOT stir). Fold in coconut flakes, or simply sprinkle on top after frosting the cake.
  5. Refrigerate the cake for a least one hour or overnight before serving. Leftover cake can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Notes

Cake Notes:

  • If you can't find coconut pudding mix, vanilla works too. You may just want to adjust the coconut extract a little based on which pudding mix you use.
  • You will want to use canned coconut milk in this recipe. Canned coconut milk is a cooking ingredient, not a beverage and it's usually unsweetened, so make sure you’re using unsweetened. It’s usually found in the baking section or near the Thai food products. When you open the can it will have a VERY thick cream layer on top with a milky liquid underneath it. Use a whisk to blend it back together before measuring for this recipe. NOTE: Do not use refrigerated carton coconut milk, or canned coconut cream. -- Can't find canned coconut milk? You can use buttermilk instead.
  • Should I use sweetened or unsweetened coconut? Sweetened coconut is usually used in baking, it's sweeter and moister than unsweetened coconut, which is a little drier and chewier and great for savory dishes. You can use either in this recipe. If you prefer, you can pulse the sweetened shredded coconut in a food processor to make the flakes a little smaller.
  • You can make this as a layer cake or cupcakes. For two layers, grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans and bake for 23-25 minutes. For three layers, baked in three 9-inch cake pans for 20-23 minutes. For cupcakes, bake for 20 minutes.
  • This cake should be kept in the refrigerator.


Frosting Notes

  • Make sure your cream cheese is completely softened, to get a nice smooth texture. Blend the cream cheese first to get it nice and smooth, then add the extract and powdered sugar. Once combined and smooth FOLD in the thawed Cool Whip, do not stir!!
  • Coconut can be folded in with the Cool Whip or just sprinkled on top of the frosted cake.
  • This frosting should be made when you are ready to frost the cake, it sets up too much if made ahead of time.
  • Coconut can be toasted or dyed for frosting.
  • This frosting recipe makes a lot, yielding a thick layer of frosting on the cake. It can easily be cut in half if you would rather have a thinner layer of frosting on the cake
  • You could frost the cake with just Cool Whip or homemade whipped cream, just know it won't be a very stable frosting.
  • It's would also be delicious with buttercream frosting: With an electric mixer cream together 4 ounces softened cream cheese and 1/4 cup softened butter. Add 1 teaspoon coconut extract, and 1 cup of powdered sugar and beat until frosting is smooth. Top with coconut after frosting the cake.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 482Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 290mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 1gSugar: 26gProtein: 4g

Nutrition information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, and freshness of ingredients used.

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close up of coconut cake with fluffy frosting